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JOHN QUINCY ADAMS AND THE MONROE DOCTRINE 

I. 

In one of his essays Hazlitt describes an old English mystery- 
play in which Adam is introduced, crossing the stage, on his 
way to be created. Was I to undertake the same representation of 
the earliest form of that political dogma or belief that later became 
known as the Monroe doctrine, I might easily fall into the same 
violation of dramatic unities. Scattered phrases in the writings of 
the political leaders of the early years of the republic might easily 
lend themselves to an interpretation according to later events. 
The policy of political isolation so solemnly enjoined in the fare- 
well address of Washington, the uniform practice of a strict neu- 
trality, and the diplomatic wishes and negotiations of Jefferson and 
Madison were so many distinct threads, which were to be gathered 
in support of a manly independence and almost indifference to 
European movements. My task is really a restricted one, and 
covers the events of less than four months of the year 1823. I 
intend to show how a question which arose as a distinctly Eu- 
ropean question was changed to an American matter ; how it was 
altered from one pertaining solely to the relations between the 
United States and England to one that concerned our relations with 
all Europe ; and, finally, the part borne by John Quincy Adams in 
reaching a determination. 

Something must be said of the conditions existing in 1823 
bearing upon the problem which the Monroe doctrine was to solve. 
Europe was under the control of the Holy Alliance. Originally 
formed by a combination of Austria, Prussia, Russia and Great 
Britain to administer upon the wreck of Napoleon's ambitions, the 
Alliance was continued as a police body, to assure the peace of the 
civilized world. France had now joined it, and to attain the ends 
of the union a full and combined support was to be given to legiti- 
mate or monarchial governments as against any revolutionary move- 
ment originating from the people. Starting from the doctrine of 
the divine right of kings, it was easy to reach the conclusion that 
the rule of a legitimate monarch was not to be questioned, and in 
short, monarchy was the only form of government which could not 
be reformed or improved. A policy of this nature, supported by 
force and applied with all the horrors of war, could not well appeal 

(676) 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 677 

to the English government. In the first case to be thus treated, 
the Neapolitan revolution, England protested against the Alliance 
making it a common question. Let it be Austrian, because Aus- 
trian interests were vitally concerned ; but it should not be Euro- 
pean. Her protests were unheeded, and an Austrian army acting 
for the Holy Alliance, ruthlessly crushed the popular movement in 
Naples and in Piedmont. 

When the Spanish affairs called for notice in 1822, the King 
had been forced to accept the constitution of 18 12, and the mem- 
bers of the Alliance believed the peace of Europe was threatened. 
Great Britain first sought to act as a mediator, but her offered ser- 
vices were not accepted. The Congress of Verona determined to 
restore Ferdinand to his throne, untrammelled by any constitution, 
and to France was given the congenial task. Spanish interests, 
however, were not confined to Europe. Her possessions in South 
America had for some time been in rebellion against her, and the 
United States alone had recognized their independence and accorded 
to them the rights of independent nations. If legitimacy was to be 
restored and maintained in Spain, no great stretch of the imagina- 
tion was needed to believe that the Alliance, having accomplished 
its task in Spain, would extend its principles to Spanish America, 
and seek to restore the authority of Spain. The same idea might 
be pushed even further. As the great example of a successful dem- 
ocratic revolution, the United States could hardly have been pleas- 
ing to the Holy Alliance, and the more timid were ready to picture 
an invasion of this country by the combined European powers. 

As a fact Great Britain offered a barrier to any such movement 
against either South or North America. Not only had the differ- 
ence which showed itself in the Naples incident been greatly widened 
by the French invasion of Spain, but the price of obtaining the sup- 
port of England could not be paid by the Allies. Firmly opposed 
to the attempt of the Alliance to regulate the internal concerns of a 
neighboring sovereign state, and disapproving the idea of imposing 
upon Spain the unrestricted rule of a monarch like Ferdinand, her 
ministers had held aloof from the movement, and adopted an atti- 
tude of a strict and undeviating neutrality, a neutrality not liable, to 
alteration towards either party, so long as the honor and just inter- 
ests of Great Britain were equally respected by both. Beyond a 
formal protest the British Cabinet would not go. Commercial inter- 
ests and the wish to stand well with the Holy Alliance dictated its 
conduct in this affair, and the English people were thus apparently 
arrayed on the side of despotism. 

Yet England did entertain some apprehension of the intentions 



678 IV. C. Ford 

of the French government. Cuba was still a colony loyal to Spain, 
but was a prize worthy attention. There could be no objection to 
the island's remaining in Spanish possession ; it was at the thought 
that the United States or France might covet it, that the head of the 
English ministry was alarmed. In November, 1822, Canning laid 
before the Cabinet a memorandum suggesting that " important as 
the interests may be which are now in discussion at Verona, yet, in 
the present state of the world, no questions relating to continental 
Europe can be more immediately and vitally important to Great 
Britain than those which relate to America." English commerce 
was suffering from outrages inflicted by the subjects of Spain, as 
well as from pirates and marauders " who bear no national char- 
acter, and for whom no Government is answerable," meaning the 
Spanish possessions in America. These conditions had obliged the 
admiralty to afford convoy to merchant vessels trading to the ports 
of the Colombian republic. " Convoy in time of peace ! " exclaimed 
Canning, " and against the attacks of a nation with which we are 
professedly in amity ! " What a preposterous position for the first 
maritime power of the world ! The attitude of the United States in 
recognizing the de facto independence of the Spanish colonies, in 
claiming a right to trade with them, and in avenging any interruption 
of the exercise of that right, implied a more straightforward course, 
and presented itself before the world a more intelligible position, than 
did the conduct of Great Britain. 

There was a danger that the United States in pursuing this 
policy would make a military occupation of Cuba a part of the 
system of security against further depredations on American vessels. 
Canning claimed to have information giving countenance and proba- 
bility to a rumored occupation of Cuba by the United States. " It 
maybe questioned," he continued, "whether any blow that could be 
struck by any foreign Power in any part of the world, would have a 
more sensible effect on the interests of this country, and on the reputa- 
tion of its Government." He therefore proposed to send a strong 
fleet to the Caribbean Sea to put an end to the depredations from 
pirates, and to check any intentions the United States might have 
upon Cuba. He also raised the question whether the time had not 
come for recognizing in some manner the Spanish colonies. " Spain 
and her colonial empire are altogether separated de facto. She has 
perhaps as little direct and available power over the colonies which 
she nominally retains, as she has over those which have thrown off 
her yoke." 1 Had it not been for the internal disturbances of Spain 

'The "Memorandum" is printed in Stapleton, Some Correspondence of George 
Canning, I. 48. 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 679 

and its invasion from France, there is every reason to believe that 
Great Britain would have recognized the South American republics 
at this time. 

This was not to be, and when the armies of France ' entered 
Spain Canning sought to obtain some expression from France as to 
Spanish territory. A permanent occupation of Spain was out of 
the question, but the conqueror might demand compensation in the 
colonies. So Canning laid down the position of Great Britain on 
another interesting matter : — 

"With respect to the Provinces in America, which have thrown off 
their allegiance to the Crown of Spain, time and the course of events 
appear to have substantially decided their separation from the Mother 
Country ; although the formal recognition of these Provinces, as Inde- 
pendent States, by His Majesty, may be hastened or retarded by various 
external circumstances, as well as by the more or less satisfactory prog- 
ress, in each State, towards a regular and settled form of Government. 
Disclaiming in the most solemn manner any intention of appropriating 
to Himself the smallest portion of the late Spanish possessions in Amer- 
ica, His Majesty is satisfied that no attempt will be made by France, to 
bring under her dominion any of those possessions, either by conquest, 
or by cession, from Spain." ' 

If Canning's purpose was to elicit a similar pledge from France 
it was not successful, and the possibility remained that Cuba might 
be offered to France and accepted, as indemnity or as spoils of war. 
Thus the apprehension of Canning remained unallayed, and the 
Cuban question persisted to color his relations with France and the 
United States. 

Nor were such apprehensions respecting Cuba confined to Can- 
ning. At the very time he was preparing his interrogatory dis- 
claimer for France, Monroe and his cabinet were considering the 
possibility of Great Britain's taking Cuba. Calhoun was for war 
with England, if she meant to take Cuba, a proposition so very gen- 
eral that the mere statement of Adams that the United States could 
not prevent such a seizure or cession was a sufficient answer. 
Monroe wished to offer to Great Britain a mutual promise not to 
take Cuba. A course so unneccessary and objectionable met with 
little favor at the hands of his advisers. Calhoun opposed it because 
nothing would be gained by it, and Adams thought it would involve 
a plunge into European politics. Calhoun did not readily change 
his opinion, and he merely moved his ground so as to be in favor of 
war with England, if she wanted to take Cuba against the wishes of 
the islanders. The doctrine of the consent of the governed would 
have sounded strange at that time in any language but English; 
it would have sounded strange uttered anywhere on English terri- 

1 George Canning to Sir Charles Stuart, March 31, 1823. 
VOL. vn. — 45. 



680 W. C. Ford 

tory. In a despatch to Hugh Nelson, the American minister in 
Spain, dated April 28, 1 823, Adams stated the position of the admin- 
istration as to Cuba. 

"You will not conceal from the Spanish Government the repug- 
nance of the United States to the transfer of the Island of Cuba by 
Spain, to any other power. The deep interest which would to them be 
involved in the event gives them the right of objecting against it ; and 
as the People of the Island itself are known to be averse to it, the right 
of Spain herself to make the cession, at least upon the principles on 
which the present Spanish constitution is founded, is more than question- 
able. Informal and verbal communications on this subject with the 
Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs will be most advisable. In casual 
conversation, and speaking as from your own impressions, you may sug- 
gest the hope, that if any question of transferring the Island to any other 
Power is or shall be in agitation, it will not be withheld from your 
knowledge or from ours ; that the condition of Cuba cannot be changed 
without affecting in an eminent degree the welfare of this Union, and 
consequently the good Understanding between us and Spain. That we 
should consider an attempt to transfer the Island, against the Will of its 
Inhabitants, as subversive of their rights, no less than of our interests; 
and that, as it would give them the perfect right of resisting such 
transfer, by declaring their own Independence, so if they should, under 
those circumstances, resort to that measure, the United States will be 
fully justified in supporting them to carry it into effect. ' ' ' 

The military progress of France in Spain was approaching an 
end, and the invaders had met with so little opposition that they 
could count upon a final success in all their endeavors. Canning's 
apprehensions as to Cuba returned, and having received no direct 
assurances from France in answer to his veiled question on her pos- 
sible ambitions for territory in America, he turned to the United 
States. Whether this was a studied intention or a sudden impulse 
is, to me, a matter of doubt. That Cuba, and its possible transfer 
by Spain to another power, were in Canning's thoughts, is certain ; 
but it is by no means certain that he took the initiative. Rush had 
been urging him to recognize the South American states, and only 
an extreme caution prevented him from taking the suggestion. 
Had he been entirely disinterested he could have entertained no 
doubt that the simplest and surest means of obtaining the support, 
even the alliance, of the United States was to announce openly what 
had been tacitly conceded, that the late Spanish colonies were in- 
deed independent states. Canning's mind was more at ease when 
it spoke with a reservation, and the indirect course was adopted in 
this instance. 

On August 1 6th Rush had an interview with Canning on the 
negotiations pending between the two countries, of which the South 
American situation formed no part. Near the close of the con- 

1 Adams's Instructions to Hugh Nelson, April 28, 1823. Adams's MSS. 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 68 1 

versation Rush " transiently asked," whether there was not room to 
hope that the Spaniards might get the better of all their troubles, 
but received only a general reply. Pursuing the subject Rush inti- 
mated that should France ultimately effect her purpose of over- 
throwing the constitutional government in Spain, there was at least 
the consolation that Great Britain would not allow her to go further 
and lay her hands upon the Spanish colonies, or stop the progress 
of their emancipation. What Rush had in mind, and what he 
wished to recall to Canning's memory, were the sentiments ex- 
pressed by the British premier in March, when writing to his repre- 
sentative in Paris — that the recognition of the Spanish colonies as 
independent nations might be hastened or retarded according to 
circumstances ; and that England disclaimed all intention of appro- 
priating the smallest portion of the late Spanish possessions in 
America. By this was to be understood, in terms sufficiently dis- 
tinct, that Great Britain would not be passive under such an attempt 
by France. Canning, in reply, asked Rush what 
"I thought my government would say to going hand in hand with 
this, in the same sentiment ; not as he added that any concert in action 
under it, could become necessary between the two countries, but that the 
simple fact of our being known to hold the same sentiment would, he 
had no doubt, by its moral effect, put down the intention on the part of 
France, admitting that she should ever entertain it. This belief was 
founded he said upon the large share of the maritime power of the world 
which Great Britain and the United States shared between them, and 
the consequent influence which the knowledge that they held a com- 
mon opinion upon a question on which such large maritime interests, 
present and future, hung, could not fail to produce upon the rest of the 
world. . . . 

" Reverting to his first idea he again said, that he hoped that France 
would not, should even events in the Peninsula be favorable to her, ex- 
tend her views to South America for the purpose of reducing the colonies, 
nominally perhaps for Spain, but in effect to subserve ends of her own ; 
but that in case she should meditate such a policy, he was satisfied that 
the knowledge of the United States being opposed to it as well as Great 
Britain, could not fail to have its influence in checking her steps. In 
this way he thought good might be done by prevention, and peaceful 
prospects all round increased. As to the form in which such knowledge 
might be made to reach France, and even the other powers of Europe, 
he said in conclusion that that might probably be arranged in a manner 
that would be free from objection." ' 

This talk was not only interesting in itself, but it was the first 
advance of that character that had ever been made by the British 
to the American government, in relation to the foreign affairs be- 
tween the two nations. Rush was guarded in his answer, express- 
ing no opinion in favor of the suggestions, yet abstaining as care- 
fully from saying anything against them. He could merely promise 

1 Richard Rush to John Quincy Adams, August 19, 1823. 



682 W. C. Ford 

to lay them before his government. To Adams he expressed the 
inference that Canning's proposition was " a fortuitous one ; yet he 
entered into it I thought with some interest." ' 

Four days later, on August 20th, Canning embodied these 
points in a private and confidential note. 

"Is not the moment come when our Governments might understand 
each other as to the Spanish American Colonies? And if we can arrive 
at such an understanding, would it not be expedient for ourselves, and 
beneficial for all the world, that the principles of it should be clearly 
settled and plainly avowed ? 

" For ourselves we have no disguise. 

1. We conceive the recovery of the Colonies by Spain to be hopeless. 

2. We conceive the question of the recognition of them, as Inde- 
pendent States, to be one of time and circumstances. 

3. We are, however, by no means disposed to throw any impediment 
in the way of an arrangement between them and the mother country by 
amicable negotiations. 

4. We aim not at the possession of any portion of them ourselves. 

5. We could not see any portion of them transferred to any other 
Power with indifference. 

" If these opinions and feelings are as I firmly believe them to be, com- 
mon to your Government with ours, why should we hesitate mutually to 
confide them to each other; and to declare them in the face of the world ? 

"If there be any European Power which cherishes other projects, which 
looks to a forcible enterprize for reducing the colonies to subjugation, on 
the behalf or in the name of Spain ; or which meditates the acquisition 
of any part of them to itself, by cession or by conquest ; such a declara- 
tion on the part of your government and ours would be at once the most 
effectual and the least offensive mode of intimating our joint disapproba- 
tion of such projects. 

"It would at the same time put an end to all the jealousies of Spain 
with respect to her remaining Colonies, and to agitation which prevails 
in those Colonies, an agitation which it would be but humane to allay; 
being determined (as we are) not to profit by encouraging it. 

" Do you conceive that under the power which you have recently re- 
ceived, you are authorized to enter into negotiation and to sign any Con- 
vention upon this subject? Do you conceive, if that be not within your 
competence, you could exchange with me ministerial notes upon it? 

" Nothing could be more gratifying to me than to join with you in such 
a work, and, I am persuaded, there has seldom, in the history of the 
world, occurred an opportunity when so small an effort of two friendly 
Governments might produce so unequivocal a good and prevent such 
extensive calamities." 

Rush sent to Washington a copy of this note in his despatch 
No. 325, dated August 23d. 2 Believing that Canning's note showed 
earnestness and cordiality towards the government of the United 
States, he wished to meet its suggestion in such a manner as not to 
compromise his government with either France or Spain, or to im- 

1 Richard Rush to John Quincy Adams, August 19, 1823. The despatch is sum- 
marized in Rush's Memoranda, 399-404. 

2 Printed in Rush's Memoranda, 415. 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 683 

plicate it in any degree in the federative system of Europe. The only 
point that could not be accepted by the United States was Canning's 
second, merely because the United States had already recognized 
the full independence of the South American states. 

Rush had barely sent off his despatch when he received an- 
other " private and confidential " note from Canning, dated at 
Liverpool, mentioning an additional motive for coming to a speedy 
determination. 

George Canning to Richard Rush. 

Private and confidential. Liverpool, August 23, 1823. 

My Dear Sir, — Since I wrote to you on the 20th, an additional 
motive has occurred for wishing that we might be able to come to some 
understanding on the part of our respective Governments on the subject 
of my letter j to come to it soon, and to be at liberty to announce it to 
the world. 

It is this. I have received notice, but not such a notice as imposes 
upon me the necessity of any immediate answer or proceeding — that so 
soon as the military objects in Spain are achieved (of which the French 
expect, how justly I know not, a very speedy achievement) a proposal 
will be made for a Congress, or some less formal concert and consultation, 
specially upon the affairs of Spanish America. 

I need not point out to you all the complications to which this pro- 
posal, however dealt with by us, may lead. 

Pray receive this communication in the same confidence with the 
former ; and believe me with great truth 

My Dear Sir, and esteem, 

Your obedient and faithful servant, 

(Signed) Geo. Canning. 

The proposition to convene a congress of European powers to 
consider American affairs, with or without the presence and partici- 
pation of the United States, was one that could not be acceptable 
to the American minister, much less so to the government he rep- 
resented. It did not require any instructions from Washington to 
characterize the proposed congress as an uncalled for measure, one 
indicative of a policy highly unfriendly to the tranquillity of the 
world. The United States could not look " with insensibility upon 
such an exercise of European jurisdiction over communities now of 
right exempt from it, and entitled to regulate their own concerns 
unmolested from abroad." If Great Britain would recognize this 
independence, Rush would make a declaration, " in the name of my 
Government, that it will not remain inactive under an attack upon 
the independence of those States by the Holy Alliance," making it 
explicitly, and avowing it before the world. 1 

It will now be necessary, to pass to the United States, where 

Rush's three despatches and their enclosures arrived at the Depart- 

1 Richard Rush to John Quincy Adams, August 28, 1823. The despatch (No. 326) 
is printed in Rush's Memoranda, 420. 



684 W. C. Ford 

ment of State, October 9th. Unfortunately the Memoirs of John 
Quincy Adams are silent from September 1 ith, when the writer was 
at Quincy, to November 7th, nearly a month after Canning's ad- 
vances had become known to the President. We have, therefore, 
no record of the first impressions they made upon Monroe and his 
Cabinet. Two days after their receipt Monroe asked for copies of 
them, and these he took with him into Virginia, when he went to 
his country-seat for a rest. His object was to ask advice from Jef- 
ferson and Madison, to whom he sent the copies without informing 
Adams that he had taken this somewhat unusual and indiscreet 
step. For a disclosure of the papers would have greatly embar- 
rassed the Secretary of State, and destroyed the usefulness of Rush 
in London, not to speak of the unfortunate position Monroe him- 
self would have occupied. His letter to Jefferson expressed his 
doubts and suggested a possible policy to be pursued ; but a care- 
ful reading fails to develop a decided opinion on his part. He 
would meet the proposal of the British government, and hints in no 
doubtful manner that the occasion may be a fair one for departing 
from the " sound maxim " of political isolation. 

Monroe to Jefferson. 

Oakhill October 17 th 1823 

Dear Sir, — I transmit to you two despatches, which were receiv'd 
from Mr. Rush, while I was lately in Washington, which involve inter- 
ests of the highest importance. They contain two letters from Mr. 
Canning, suggesting designs of the holy alliance, against the Indepen- 
dence of S° America, and proposing a cooperation, between G. Britain and 
the U States, in support of i , against the members of that alliance. 
The project aims in the first instance, at a mere expression of opinion, 
somewhat in the abstract, but which it is expected by Mr. Canning, 
will have a great political effect, by defeating the combination. By Mr. 
Rush's answers, which are also inclosed, you will see the light in which 
he views the subject, and the extent to which he may have gone. Many 
important considerations are involved in this proposition. 1" Shall we 
entangle ourselves, at all, in European politicks, and wars, on the side of 
any power, against others, presuming that a concert by agreement, of 
the kind proposed, may lead to that result? 2* If a case can exist, in 
which a sound maxim may, and ought to be departed from, is not the 
present instance, precisely that case? 3* Has not the epoch arriv'd 
when G. Britain must take her stand, either on the side of the monarchs 
of Europe, or of the U States, and in consequence, either in favor of 
Despotism or of liberty and may it not be presum'd, that aware of that 
necessity, her government, has seiz'd on the present occurrence, as that, 
which it deems, the most suitable, to announce and mark the commenc'- 
ment of that career. 

My own impression is that we ought to meet the proposal of the 
British gov^, and to make it known, that we would view an interference 
on the part of the European powers, and especially an attack on the 
Colonies, by them, as an attack on ourselves, presuming that if they 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 685 

succeeded with them, they would extend it to us. I am sensible however 
of the extent, and difficulty of the question, and shall be happy to have 
yours, and Mr. Madison's opinions on it. I do not wish to trouble 
either of you with small objects, but the present one is vital, involving 
the high interests, for which we have so long and so faithfully, and harmo- 
niously, contended together. Be so kind as to enclose to him the de- 
spatches, with an intimation of the motive. With great respect etc 

James Monroe 
Reed Oct 23' 

Both Jefferson and Madison were in favor of accepting Can- 
ning's advances, as by that means Great Britain would be separated 
from the Holy Alliance. Madison was the more radical in favoring 
some material aid to Spain and Greece in their contests against 
combined Europe. This sentimental idea is not sufficient to convict 
Madison of" playing politics," for he had run his public career, and 
had nothing in the future. There can be no doubt, however, that 
others were urging such a policy because they knew it would be 
popular with the United States. The picture of a people struggling 
for liberty appealed strongly to leading members of both political 
parties ; and the " witchery " of the South American question was 
nearly repeated in the Greek problem. 

While Monroe was in Virginia an incident happened which led 
to the injection into this question of the South American states of a 
new factor — Russia. Baron de Tuyll, the Russian minister at 
Washington, called upon the Secretary of State on October 16th, 
and informed him that his master, the Emperor, would not receive 
any minister or agent from any of the gdvernments recently formed 
in the new world. While he had not been instructed to make an 
official communication of this fact to the American government, he 
was instructed to make this determination of the Emperor known, 
so that there might no doubt be entertained with regard to his 
intentions. He also made a verbal expression of the satisfaction 
with which the Emperor had observed that the government of the 
United States, in recognizing the independence of the South 
American states, had declared its intention to persevere in that 
neutrality it had hitherto observed. The minister said he would 
address a note to Mr. Adams, officially informing him of the Em- 
peror's position as to diplomatic or consular agents from South 
America. The Secretary of State observed in reply, that upon the 
President's return from Virginia he 

' ' would lay before him, as well the Note, which I should in the 
meantime receive from the Baron, as the purport of the oral communi- 
cation which he then made to me. That I should probably be instructed 

' From the Jefferson MSS. 



686 W. C. Ford 

to return a written answer to his Note, and that I should also be directed 
what to say in answer to his verbal remarks. That the Declaration of the 
American Government when they recognized the Southern American 
Nations, that they would persevere in the neutrality till then observed 
between Spain and her emancipated Colonies, had been made under the 
observance of a like neutrality by all the European Powers to the same 
contest. That so long as that state of things should continue, I could 
take upon me to assure the Baron, that the United States would not 
depart from the neutrality so declared by them. But that if one or more 
of the European powers should depart from their neutrality, that change 
of circumstances would necessarily become a subject of further delibera- 
tion in this Government, the result of which it was not in my power to 
foretell." 

On the same day the promised official note was received from 
the minister : 

" Sa Majeste Imperiale a enjoit a son Ministre de me prevenir, que, 
fidele aux principes politiques, qu'Elle suit de concert avec ses allies, 
Elle ne pourra dans aucun cas recevoir aupres d'EUe aucun agent quelcon- 
que, soit de la Regence de Colombia, soit d'aucun des autres Gouverne- 
mens de fait, qui doivent leur existence aux evenements, dont le nouveau 
monde a ete depuis quelques annees le theatre. ' ' 

Monroe returned from Virginia November 5th. Two days 
earlier despatches had been received from Rush showing an extra- 
ordinary change in Canning's tone. He was no longer pressing for 
a reply to his advances ; he was decidedly cool, and showed plainly 
that he was not prepared to give the pledge of an immediate recog- 
nition of the independence of the South American states, the 
pledge which alone would enable Rush to enter into his proposed 
joint announcement of policy. His note was couched in diplo- 
matic language, but left little doubt of his altered disposition. 

{Enclosure with Mr. Rush's No. JJO, September 8, 1S2J.) 

George Canning to Richard Rush. 

Private and Confidential. Storrs, Westmorland, Aug. 31, 1823. 

My dear Sir, — I have now to acknowledge the receipt of your answer 
to both my letters ; and whatever may be the practical result of our confi- 
dential communication, it is an unmixed satisfaction to me that the spirit 
in which it began on my part, has been met so cordially on yours. 

To a practical result eminently beneficial I see no obstacle ; except 
in your want of specific powers, and in the delay which may intervene 
before you can procure them ; and during which events may get before us. 

Had you felt yourself authorized to entertain any formal proposition, 
and to decide upon it, without reference home, I would immediately have 
taken measures for assembling my Colleagues in London, upon my return, 
in order to be enabled to submit to you as the act of my government, all 
that I have stated to you as my own sentiments and theirs. But with such 
a delay in prospect, I think I should hardly be justified in proposing to 
bind ourselves to any thing positively and unconditionally ; and think on 
the other hand that a proposition qualified either in respect to the con- 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 687 

tingency of your concurrence in it, or with reference to possible change 
of circumstances, would want the decision and frankness which I should 
wish to mark our proceeding. 

Not that I anticipate any change of circumstances, which could vary 
the views opened to you in my first letter : — nor that, after what you have 
written to me in return, I apprehend any essential dissimilarity of views 
on the part of your Government. 

But we must not place ourselves in a position in which, if called upon 
from other quarters for an opinion, we cannot give a clear and definite 
account not only of what we think and feel, but of what we have done or 
are doing, upon the matter in question. To be able to say, in answer to 
such an appeal, that the United States and Great Britain concur in think- 
ing so and so — would be well. To anticipate any such appeal by a vol- 
untary declaration to the same effect would be still better. But to have 
to say that we are in communication with the United States but have no 
conclusive understanding with them, would be inconvenient — our free 
agency would thus be fettered with respect to other Powers ; while our 
agreement with you would be yet unascertained. 

What appears to me, therefore, the most advisable is that you should 
see in my unofficial communication enough hope of good to warrant you in 
requiring Powers and Instructions from your Government on this point, 
in addition to the others upon which you have recently been instructed 
and empowered ; treating that communication not as a proposition made 
to you, but as the evidence of the nature of a proposition which it would 
have been my desire to make to you, if I had found you provided with 
authority to entertain it. 

I have the honor to be, with the greatest esteem and respect, 

My Dear Sir, 
Your obedient and faithful servant, 

(Signed) Geo. Canning. 

Not only did Rush on receiving this note regard the incident as 
closed, but his suspicions of Canning's motives were seriously 
aroused. " I am bound to own," he wrote in a private letter to 
Monroe, " that I shall not be able to avoid, at bottom, some distrust 
of the motives of all such advances to me, whether directly or 
indirectly, by this government, at this particular juncture of the 
world." Whatever evidences Great Britain had given of a tendency 
to liberalize her commercial policy, there was no recognizable pros- 
pect of the adoption of greater political freedom, whether in relation 
to herself or other states. 

" We have seen her wage a war of 20 years at a cost of treasure and 
blood incalculable, in support of the independence of other states (as she 
said) when that independence was threatened by a movement proceeding 
from the people of France. We have seen her at the close of that contest 
abandoning the great interests of the people of other states, anxious 
apparently only about monarchs and thrones. We have seen her at the 
same epoch become in effect a member of the Holy Alliance ; though she 
could not in form, and continue to abet its principles up to the attack on 
Naples. Even then the separation was but partial, and, true to her sym- 
pathy with the monarchical principle, we find her faith pledged and her 



688 W. C. Ford 

fleets ready to interpose not on any new extremity of wrong or oppression 
to the people of Naples, but on any molestation to the royal family. 
Since the present year set in, she has proclaimed and until now cautiously 
maintained her neutrality under an attack by France upon the inde- 
pendence of Spain, as unjust, as nefarious, and as cruel, as the annals of 
mankind can recount, this attack having been made upon the people of a 
country, by a legitimate king, urged on by legitimate nobles. It is thus 
that Britain has been from the very beginning, positively or negatively, 
auxiliary to the evils with which this Alliance under the mark of Christi- 
anity has already affected the old, and is now menacing the new world. 
It is under this last stretch of ambition that she seems about to be 
aroused, not, as we seem forced to infer after all we have seen, from any 
objections to the arbitrary principles of the Combination, for the same 
men are still substantially at the head of her affairs ; but rather from the 
apprehensions which are now probably coming upon her, touching her 
own influence and standing through the formidable and encroaching 
career of these continental potentates. She at last perceives a crisis likely 
to come on, bringing with it peril to her own commercial prospects on the 
other side of the Atlantic, and to her political sway in both hemispheres. 
Hence probably some of her recent and remarkable solicitudes. The 
former war of 20 years more than once shook her prosperity and brought 
hazards to her existence, though for the most part she was surrounded by 
allies. A second war of like duration with no ally for her in Europe 
might not have a second field of Waterloo for its termination. Such are 
the prospective dangers that possibly do not escape her. 

" The estimate which I have formed of the genius of this government, 
as well as of the characters of the men who direct, or who influence, all 
its operations, would lead me to fear that we are not as yet likely to wit- 
ness any very material changes in the part which Britain has acted in the 
world for the past fifty years, when the cause of freedom has been at 
stake ; the part which she acted in 1774 in America, which she has since 
acted in Europe, and is now acting in Ireland. I shall therefore find it 
hard to keep from my mind the suspicion that the approaches of her 
ministers to me at this portentous juncture for a concert of policy which 
they have not heretofore courted with the United States, are bottomed on 
their own calculations. I wish that I could sincerely see in them a true 
concern for the rights and liberties of mankind. Nevertheless, whatever 
may be the motive of these approaches, if they give promise of leading 
to good effects, effects which the United States from principle and from 
policy would delight to hail, I grant that a dispassionate and friendly ear 
should be turned to them, and such shall be my aim in the duties before 
me." 1 

The one or two subsequent incidental references to the matter made 
by Canning confirmed Rush in his views. On September 26th, Can- 
ning told him that Daniel Sheldon, American charge d'affaires at 
Paris had assured the British ambassador that the United States was 
aware of all the projects of France and the Holy Alliance upon 
Spanish America, and disapproved of them. If Sheldon had been 
instructed to say that, surely Rush must be in the possession of 
sufficient authority of a like nature to accept Canning's propositions. 

1 Rush to Monroe, September 15, 1823. From the Monroe MSS. 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 689 

Rush, however, was too cautious to be drawn even into an expres- 
sion of opinion, and again insisted " that certainly I had none, 
other than those general instructions which I had already mentioned 
to him, evidently never framed to meet the precise crisis which he 
supposed to be at hand respecting Spanish America, but under the 
comprehensive spirit of which I was nevertheless willing to go 
forward with him in his proposals upon the terms I had stated, in 
the hope of meeting this crisis." 

This rebuff threw Canning into a new offer of compromise. 
Great Britain, he declared, felt great embarrassments as regarded 
the immediate recognition of these new states, embarrassments 
which had not been common to the United States, and he asked 
whether Rush would not give his assent to the proposals on a 
promise by Great Britain 0$ future acknowledgment. The American 
minister again avoided any commitment by giving an immediate and 
unequivocal refusal. " I cannot be unaware," he wrote to Adams, 
" that in this whole transaction the British cabinet are striving for 
their own ends ; yet if these ends promise in this instance to be also 
auspicious to the safety and independence of all Spanish America, 
I persuade myself that we cannot look upon them but with appro- 
bation. England it is true has given her countenance, and still 
does, to all the evils with which the holy Alliance have afflicted 
Europe ; but if she at length has determined to stay the career of 
their formidable and despotick ambition in the other hemisphere, 
the United States seem to owe it to all the policy and to all the 
principles of their system, to hail the effects whatever may be the 
motives of her conduct." 

In a despatch dated October loth, Rush reviewed the incident, 
and once more declared that the last word had in all probability 
been spoken. 

" I saw him [Canning] again at the foreign office yesterday and he said 
not one single word relative to South America, although the occasion was 
altogether favorable for resuming the topick, had he been disposed to 
resume it. I therefore consider that all further discussion between us in 
relation to it is now at an end. I had myself regarded the questions in- 
volved in the discussion as essentially changed by the arrival of the news 
of the convention of the 4th of July between Buenos Ayres and the com- 
missioners from Spain ; and of the complete annihilation of the remnant 
of the royal forces in Colombia under Morales, on the third of August, 
both which pieces of intelligence have reached England since the twenty 
sixth of September, the date of my last conference with Mr. Canning on 
the South American subject. 

" The termination of the discussion between us may be thought some- 
what sudden, not to say abrupt, considering how zealously as well as 
spontaneously it was started on his side. As I did not commence it, it is 
not my intention to revive it. If I had actually acceded to his proposals, 



690 W. C. Ford 

I should have endeavored to have placed my conduct in a satisfactory 
light before the President. The motives of it would not, I flatter myself, 
have been disapproved. But as the whole subject is now before my 
government, and as I shall do nothing further in it without instructions, 
I should deem it out of place to travel into any new reasons in support of 
a step not in fact taken. 

" Mr. Canning not having acceded to my proposal, nor I to his, we 
stand as we were before his first advance to me, with the exception only 
of the light which the intervening discussion may be supposed to have 
shed upon the dispositions and policy of England in this important mat- 
ter. It appears that having ends of her own in view, she has been anxious 
to facilitate their accomplishment by invoking my auxiliary offices as the 
minister of the United States at this court ; but as to the independence 
of the new states of America, for their own benefit, that this seems quite 
another question in her diplomacy. It is France that must not be aggran- 
dized, not South America that must be made free. The former doctrine 
may fitly enough return upon Britain as part of her permanent political 
creed ; but not having been taught to regard it as also incorporated with 
the foreign policy of the United States, I have forborne to give it gratui- 
tous succour. I would have brought myself to minister to it incidentally 
on this occasion, only in return for a boon which it was in the power of 
Britain herself to have offered ; a boon that might have closed the suffer- 
ings and brightened the prospects of those infant Republics emerging from 
the new world, and seeming to be connected as by a great moral chain 
with our own destinies. 

" Whether any fresh explanations with France since the fall of Cadiz 
may have brought Mr. Canning to so full and sudden a pause with me, I 
do not know, and most likely never shall know if events so fall out that 
Great Britain no longer finds it necessary to seek the aid of the United 
States in furtherance of her schemes of counteraction as against France 
or Russia. That the British cabinet, and the governing portion of the 
British nation, will rejoice at heart in the downfal of the constitutional 
system in Spain, I have never had a doubt and have not now, so long as 
this catastrophe can be kept from crossing the path of British interests 
and British ambition. This nation in its collective, corporate, capacity 
has no more sympathy with popular rights and freedom now, than it had 
on the plains of Lexington in America ; than it showed during the whole 
progress of the French revolution in Europe, or at the close of its first 
great act, at Vienna, in 181 5 ; than it exhibited lately at Naples in pro- 
claiming a neutrality in all other events, save that of the safety of the 
royal family there ; or, still more recently, when it stood aloof whilst 
France and the Holy Alliance avowed their intention of crushing the lib- 
erties of unoffending Spain, of crushing them too upon pretexts so wholly 
unjustifiable and enormous that English' ministers, for very shame, were 
reduced to the dilemma of speculatively protesting against them, whilst 
they allowed them to go into full action. With a king in the hands of 
his ministers, with an aristocracy of unbounded opulence and pride, with 
what is called a house of commons constituted essentially by this aris- 
tocracy and always moved by its influence, England can, in reality, never 
look with complacency upon popular and equal rights, whether abroad or 
at home. She therefore moves in her natural orbit when she wars, posi- 
tively or negatively, against them. For their own sakes alone, she will 
never war in their favor. ' ' 

The real cause of Canning's sudden indifference was not made 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 69 1 

known until some weeks later. Unable to draw Rush into even 
a partial alliance, and as unable to meet Rush's primary condition 
of an immediate recognition of the South American states, Canning 
sought to obtain some distinct pledge from France of disinterested- 
ness so far as the late Spanish possessions in America were con- 
cerned. Approaching the Prince de Polignac, then representing 
France at the English court, he obtained positive assurance on the 
lines of his own ideas. A joint memorandum was prepared October 
9th, and in it the Prince de Polignac declared 

"That his Government believed it to be utterly hopeless to reduce 
Spanish America to the state of its former relations to Spain ; 

"That France disclaimed, on Her part, any intention or desire to 
avail Herself of the present State of the colonies, or of the present situ- 
ation of France towards Spain, to appropriate to Herself any part of the 
Spanish Possessions in America, or to obtain for Herself any exclusive 
advantages ; 

" And that, like England, She would willingly see the Mother Coun- 
try in possession of superior commercial advantages, by amicable arrange- 
ments ; and would be contented, like Her, to rank, after the Mother 
Country, among the most favoured nations ; 

" Lastly, that She abjured, in any case, any design of acting against 
the Colonies by force of arms. ' ' ' 

Canning read this paper to Rush, November 24th, but did not 
give him a copy of it until December 13th — or too late to have any 
influence upon the councils at Washington. 

The interview between Adams and Baron Tuyll, already men- 
tioned, occurred on October 16th, and the official note bore the 
same date. On October 18th Adams drafted a reply, and, of course, 
without any consultation with the absent President. This draft was 
not submitted to Monroe and his Cabinet until November 7th. In 
its first form, therefore, the thoughts and expressions were entirely 
those of Adams. In the cabinet meeting the Secretary explained 
that the Russian communications afforded a " very suitable and con- 
venient opportunity for us to take our stand against the Holy Alli- 
ance, and at the same time to decline the overture of Great Britain. 
It would be more candid, as well as more dignified, to avow our 
principles explicitly to Russia and France, than to come in as a 
cock-boat in the wake of the British man-of-war." 2 The draft of 
the letter to Baron Tuyll was then read. The following parallel 
shows the first draft, Monroe's alterations as completed on the 10th, 
and Adams's substitute paragraph added on the 1 ith. The date of 

1 The full text of the paper, except the paragraphs on the congress, will be found in 
British and Foeign State Papers, 1823-1824, p. 49. It is an interesting conjecture 
whether Canning did not use the half promise of Rush to co-operate when conversing 
with the representative of France. A hint that the United States would occupy the same 
position as England would carry great moral weight. 

1 Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, VI. 178. 



692 W. C. Ford 

the draft was originally October 18th, but November 15th was the 
day on which it was sent to the Russian minister. 

Adams's Draft. 1 
Thc Baron de Tuyll, 

Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from Russia. 

Department of State. Washington, 15 th Nov r 1823. 

Sir, — I have had the honour of receiving your Note of the T 4 ^ inst! com- 
municating the information that His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all 
the Russias has determined in no case whatsoever to receive any agent 
whatsoever either from the Government of the Republic of Columbia, or 
from any other of the Governments de facto, which owe their existence 
to the Events of which the new World has for some years past been the 
theatre. 

Influenced by the considerations which prescribe it as a duty to inde- 
pendent Christian Nations of Christians to entertain with each other, the 
friendly relations which sentiments of humanity and their mutual interests 
require, and satisfied that those of South America had become irrevocably 
Independent of Spain the Government of the United States B [have inter- 
changed Ministers Plenipotentiary with the Republic of Colombia, have 
appointed Ministers of the same Rank to the Governments of Mexico, 
Buenos Ayres and Chili, have received a Minister and other Diplomatic 
Agents from Mexico, and will continue to receive and send Agents 
Diplomatic and Commercial, in their intercourse with the other American 
Independent Nations, as in the performance of their social duties, and in 
the pursuit of their lawful Interests they shall find expedient proper. While 
regretting that the political principles maintained by His Imperial Majesty 
and his allies, have not yet led the Imperial Government to the same 
result, and that they have not seen fit to receive the diplomatic agent Min- 
ister of Peace said to have been commissioned by the Republican Govern- 
ment of Colombia, to reside near his Imperial Majesty, the Government 
of the United States respecting in others that self-dependent Sovereignty 
which they exercise themselves, receive from you the information of his 
Majesty's determination on this subject in the Spirit of Candour, frank- 
ness, and of amicable disposition with which it is given.] 

D. I avail myself of the occasion to reiterate to you, Sir, the assur- 
ance of my distinguished Consideration. 

Monroe's Suggested Changes. 2 

B. The government of the U States thought it proper to acknowledge 
their independance, in March, 1822., by an act which was then published 
to the world. This government has since interchanged ministers with 
the republic of Columbia, has appointed ministers of the same rank to the 
governments of Mexico, Buenos Ayres, and Chili, has received a minister 
and other diplomatic agents from Mexico, and preservd, in other respects 
the same intercourse, with those new States, that they have with other 
powers. 

By a recurrence to the message of the President, a copy of which is 
enclosed, you will find, that this measure was adopted on great considera- 
tion ; that the attention of this gov! had been called, to the contest, be- 

1 What is enclosed in brackets was struck out by the President. Words in italics 
were also omitted from the final form of this letter. 
2 See Monroe's letter printed on p. 695. 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 693 

tween the parent country and the Colonies, from an early period that it 
had marked the course of events with impartiality, and had become per- 
fecdy satisfied, that Spain could not reestablish her authority over them : 
that in fact the new States were completely independant. C. 

[Under those circumstances my gov' has heard with great 'regret, the 
information containd in your note that the political principles main- 
taind by his Imperial Majesty and his allies, have not yet led the Imperial 
govf, to the same result. I am instructed however by the President to 
assure you, that this communication of H. I. M.'s determination, on this 
subject has been receivd in the spirit of candour, frankness, and of 
amicable disposition with which it is given.] 

Adams's Substitute. 

C. From the information contained in your Note, it appears that the 
political Principles maintained by His Imperial Majesty and his allies, 
have not led the Imperial Government to the same result. I am in- 
structed by the President to assure you, that the Government of the 
United States respecting in others the Independence of the Sovereign 
authority, which they exercise themselves, receive the communication 
of H. I. M's determination on that subject in the Spirit of Candour, 
frankness and of amicable disposition which it is made. D. 

It was Calhoun who objected to the words Christian, annexed 
to independent nations, and of peace, added to the word minister as 
sarcastic. In spite of Adams explaining that " all the point of my 
note was in these two words, as my object was to put the Emperor 
in the wrong in the face of the world as much as possible," they 
were struck from the draft. The cabinet meeting came to an end 
before the form of the note had been determined, but developed 
some difference of opinion upon the manner of replying to the 
Russian communications. As the communications with the Russian 
minister had been part verbal and part in writing, the Secretary 
thought it would be only proper to reply in the same manner. To 
answer the whole in one written note might place the Baron in an 
awkward predicament. But he warned the President that "the 
answer to be given to Baron Tuyll, the instructions to Mr. Rush 
relative to the proposals of Mr. Canning, those to Mr. Middleton at 
St. Petersburg, and those to the minister who must be sent to 
France, must all be part of a combined system of policy and adapted 
to each other." With the President Adams agreed to confine his 
written reply to the purport of the Baron's written note, and to see 
the Baron again upon the verbal part of his communication. This 
would be limited to an expression of the intention on the part of the 
United States to continue to remain neutral. 

Before the note in its altered form could be prepared Adams was 
to see the Russian minister, and the 8th was the day appointed. 
Even in the interval of less than twenty-four hours, between the 
Cabinet meeting of the 7th and this conference, Monroe had doubts, 
wavered, and wrote to Adams as follows : 



694 W. C. Ford 

James Monroe to John Quincv Adams. 

Nov 8, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — I called to confer a moment with you respecting the con- 
cerns depending with the minister of Russia, but not meeting with you, 
and hearing that you are expected to have an interview with the minister 
of Russia, to day, I drop you a few lines on that subject. 

In the interview, I think that it will be proper, to extend your con- 
versation and enquiries to every point, which seems to be embraced, by his 
note, and informal communication, with a view to make it the basis of all 
subsequent measures, either with Congress, or through Mr. Rush with the 
British gov'. If you see no impropriety, in it, I think that I would ask 
him, whether he intended, by the terms "political principles" to refer 
to the governments established, in the new states, as distinguishing them 
from those of Europe, the strict import justifies the conclusion that he 
does, and that is supported by all the recent movements of the allied 
powers, in Europe. Still to give it that construction, without his sanc- 
tion, in this form, might be objected to hereafter. I merely suggest this 
for your consideration, to which I add, that if there be cause to doubt the 
propriety of the step, you had better decline it, for further reflection, 
especially as other opportunities will present themselves, in future confer- 
ences with him, on the same subject. 

On the other point I need add nothing at this time. Indeed I do 
not know that I can say anything, in addition to what was suggested on 
it yesterday. It is probable that something may occur in your confer- 
ence, which may make it proper, to enlarge the sphere of the communi- 
cation. 

J. M. 1 

The Baron came to the Department according to appointment 
on the same day. The Secretary told him that he 
"had submitted to the President the Note from him declaring the 
Emperor's determination not to receive any Minister or Agent from any 
of the South American States, to which I should shortly send him an 
answer : that I had also reported to the President the substance of our 
verbal conferences : of what had been said by him, and of my answers. 
That the President had directed me to say that he approved of my 
answers as far as they had gone, and to add that he received the observa- 
tions of the Russian Government relating to the neutrality of the United 
States in the contest between Spain, and the Independent States of 
South America, amicably ; and in return for them wished him to 
express to the Court the hope of the Government of the United States 
that Russia would on her part also continue to observe the same neutrality. 
After some conversation the Baron desired me to repeat what I had said, 
that he might be sure of perfectly understanding me : which I did. He 
then observed that he should immediately prepare a dispatch to his Gov- 
ernment, relating to the purport of this conversation, and (it being 
Saturday) that to be sure of its accuracy he would send it to my house 
the next day, requesting me to make any observations upon it that I 
should think advisable. 

' ' At this conference, upon a suggestion from the President, I enquired 
of the Baron, what was the import of the words " political principles," 
in his note of T \ October. He said they were used in the Instructions 

1 From the Adams MSS. 



John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine 695 

of his Government to him, and he understood them as having reference 
to the right of Supremacy of Spain over her Colonies ; and that this 
appeared to him to be so clearly their meaning that he did not think it 
would be necessary for him to ask of his Government an explanation of 
them." 1 

Two days later Monroe returned to Adams the draft of the 
letter to Tuyll with the changes he wished to have incorporated. 
His note was thoroughly characteristic, again showing the inde- 
cision of the writer. 

James Monroe to John Quincy Adams. 

Dear Sir, — I enclose you a modification, of your note in reply to 
that of the Russian minister for your consideration. The part for which 
it is proposed to be a substitute is marked with a pencil — tho' much of 
that thus marked is retained. You will be able to decide how far such 
a modification, will be proper from what may have taken place in your 
conference with the minister. The object is, to soften the communica- 
tion, in some degree, without losing any portion of the decision called 
for by the occasion. 

J. M. 

Nov r io, 1823. 2 

Having replied to the communication from the Russian minister, 
it became necessary to make some reply to Canning's proposals. 
Apart from the suggestion that recognition was a matter of time 
and circumstance, there was nothing in the five heads that the 
United States had not already accepted as its policy. The guarded 
utterances of Rush in his exchange of notes with Canning had 
gone as far as it was possible to go without positive instructions 
from home, and those instructions could not have been issued with- 
out unduly binding our government to follow Great Britain in every 
contingency. The President, by the very form of his questions to 
Jefferson, implied that he would even favor a departure in this in- 
stance from the traditional policy of isolation. But Canning blun- 
dered. He intimated to Rush that the Alliance had intentions 
against the late Spanish colonies of South America, and urged the 
American minister to enter into a definite and binding compact. 
Yet he did not tell Rush from what source he had obtained this in- 
formation, and thus gave rise to a suspicion that his solicitude was 
not entirely disinterested, or his urgency was not calculated to com- 

'The Baron said the words were used "in the instructions of the Government to 
him, and he understood them to have reference to the right of supremacy of Spain over 
her colonies. I had so understood them myself, and had not entertained a moment's 
doubt as to their meaning." Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, VI, 182. 

2 From the Adams MSS. In noting the receipt of this letter from the President, 
Adams says, " I think also of proposing another modification." The Memoirs (VI. 184) 
tell us what this modification was — " leaving out entirely the expression of regret — which 
he approved." 

vol. vil. — 46. 



696 W. C Ford 

promit Rush for the benefit of the British government. Upon the 
despatches from Rush, Adams commented : " The object of Can- 
ning appears to have been to obtain some public pledge from the 
government of the United States, ostensibly against the forcible in- 
terference of the Holy Alliance between Spain and South America ; 
but really or especially against the acquisition to the United States 
themselves of any part of the Spanish-American possessions. . . By 
joining with her, therefore, in her proposed declaration, we give 
her a substantial and perhaps inconvenient pledge against ourselves, 
and really obtain nothing in return. 1 

Worth ington Chauncey Ford. 

1 Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, VI. 1 77.